Sandia Solar Program Newsletter - May 2015

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Latest Sandia Solar Programs News & Research


The Sandia Solar Programs e-newsletter features highlights, key activities, events, and publications. Current and archived newsletters are available via the Recent Solar Highlights link on Sandia’s Energy and Climate website. We welcome your feedback. Please e-mail comments and suggestions to We hope you enjoy this valuable resource!

Research Updates

Jay Johnson receives award at SunSpec Alliance Meeting

Sandia Researcher Recognized at SunSpec Annual Meeting

Sandia solar researcher Jay Johnson attended the SunSpec Alliance Annual Member’s Meeting in San Francisco in March and received the 2015 SunSpec McCulloch-Pitts Award in recognition of “innovation, collaboration and general technical excellence in the area of Distributed Energy Resource control automation.” The award acknowledged Johnson’s collaborative research as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with SunSpec. Under the CRADA, Sandia and SunSpec are teamed to create a graphical user interface System Validation Platform to verify the functionality of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) with advanced grid functionality and utility communication capabilities. The work follows on Sandia’s publication of testing protocols for advanced grid inverters as a precursor to an international or updated Underwriters Laboratories 1741 certification standard. The objective is to address certification of DERs for advanced interoperability grid functionality defined in the International Electrotechnical Commission Technical Report 61850-90-7. The SunSpec Alliance is a trade alliance of solar and storage distributed energy industry participants. The organization pursues standards related to operational aspects of solar photovoltaic installations and energy storage.

Sandia Co-Hosting 4th PV Performance Modeling Workshop

Sandia National Laboratories is partnering with TUV Rheinland the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme to host the 4th PV Performance Modeling Workshop in Cologne, Germany, October 22-23, 2015. The workshop convenes solar photovoltaic (PV) professionals and researchers to learn about and discuss vital, innovative technical issues related to PV performance modeling. The intent is to engage participants in discussing best practices, modeling innovations, model validations, and opportunities for new models in a variety of areas. Topics for the 2015 workshop include solar resource data and uncertainty; soiling models; spectral corrections; bifacial PV performance array modeling; updates about modeling tools; and field modeling and validation of PV performance models. The agenda and registration details are still in development. Updates about the event will be available on the PV Performance Modeling Collaborative (PVPMC) website. The PVPMC is a collaborative group of PV professionals interested in improving the accuracy and technical rigor of PV performance models and analyses. 

Ken Armijo discusses NSTTF at Lab2Ventures

Solar Team among Sandia Participants at Lab2Venture

Researchers from Sandia, included representatives from the laboratory’s renewable energy and concentrating solar power (CSP) teams, recently participated in Technology Ventures’ Lab2Venture Open House. Sandians Juan Torres, Subhash Shinde, Lee DeFrates, and Kenneth Armijo attended the event to share information about the Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility with local industry and entrepreneurs, and to discuss uses for solar thermal technology beyond electricity production. Lab2Venture provided an opportunity for industry, entrepreneurs, and inventors to meet and collaborate with laboratories and research facilities, including Sandia, the Air Force Research Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the University of New Mexico. About 200 people attended the open house.

Sandia Solar Researcher to be Featured in PBS Science Video

Sandia researcher Kenneth Armijo was recently interviewed for an episode of the New Mexico Public Broadcasting Service’s (NMPBS’) “Why I became a Scientist,” in NMPBS’ Science Central. The program features video interviews with inspiring scientists, with the objective of getting middle and high school students interested in math and science careers. Armijo’s research topics include inverter/power electronics reliability research, arc fault plasma reliability physics, thermal phenomena of photovoltaic (PV) technologies, and other topics aimed at advancing solar technologies. A Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, Armijo currently works in the National Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia. Armijo was recognized in Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology magazine’s Fall 2014 issue, in the article “Where Does the Energy Sector Find its Next-Gen Stars?”

The Solar Tower at Sandia's NSTTF.

Sandia Falling Particle Receiver Testing Continues on Tower

Sandia’s concentrating solar power (CSP) research team has recently been conducting first-of-its-kind on-sun testing of a 1-MWth (megawatt-thermal) continuously recirculating falling particle receiver system. During the test, which was performed on-ground at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF), heliostats were used to illuminate particles falling over discrete porous structures in a cavity receiver at different particle mass flow rates. On June 8, CSP researchers will move the falling particle receiver to the top of the NSTTF tower and continue testing. This step will mark the start of high-flux, on-sun testing of the system. The tests are a collaborative effort between Sandia, Georgia Tech, Bucknell University, German aerospace center DLR, and King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

Sandia Research on Rooftop Structural Strength Gains Attention

Two Sandia research reports, Structural Code Considerations of Solar Rooftop Installations and Empirically Derived Strength of Residential Roof Structure for Solar Installations, have been featured recently in a number of solar trade outlets. The reports detail rooftop structural analysis conducted by Sandia and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. Test results indicate that the actual load-bearing capacity for residential rooftop structural systems is several times higher than published values. These outcomes provide a new data for consideration in evaluating rooftops for solar PV installations.

The reports were highlighted in newsletters from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (SolarABCs), and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. The reports are also slated to be discussed in a June article in Solar Builder magazine, as well as in an upcoming edition of the International Code Council’s Building Safety Journal , a blog post from DOE’s Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, and webinars with the Solar Instructor Training Network and SolarABCs. The reports are available on Sandia's PV website and results are summarized in a related fact sheet.

NPR Touts Solar as an Electricity Resource for Navajo Nation

A recent feature on National Public Radio highlights the use of solar to provide electricity to Native Americans living off the grid on tribal reservations that are often far from electricity grids. The piece includes a discussion with Sandian Sandra Begay-Campbell, who leads the lab’s Tribal Energy Program. The story focuses on the Navajo Nation, located in three of the four “corners” region that traverses Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah (Navajo Nation does not include land in Colorado). A U.S. Department of Energy statistic quoted in the piece indicates some 18,000 Navajo homes lack electricity, in most cases because grid infrastructure is not available. Solar installations address this issue by providing local, “off-grid” power.

Sandia CSP Team Attends DOE Industry Day

Cliff Ho and Subhash L. Shinde from Sandia’s concentrating solar power (CSP) team and Energy Technologies and System Solutions Director Carol Adkins attended the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Industry Day in Sacramento, CA, in April. The event convened CSP researchers and industry representatives to discuss the effects of changes in electricity generation and load profiles on renewable energy, and the capabilities needed to meet the resulting challenges and opportunities. Topics discussed included grid challenges, policy, CSP markets, and thermal energy storage. Shinde presented a detailed overview of how CSP research at Sandia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory help support and advance the goals of DOE’s SunShot Initiative.

Recent Publications

External Link Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement of the external Web site, the information, products or services contained therein.

Signage at the Sandia-managed Regional Test Center in Vermont

Upcoming Events

42nd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, June 14-19, 2015, New Orleans, LA

Intersolar North America, San Francisco, CA, July 13-15, 2015

SunShot CSP Symposium at ASME Power & Energy, San Diego, CA, June 28, 2015

 Solar 2015 Conference, State College, PA, July 28-30. 2015

 Solar Power International, Anaheim, CA, Sept. 14-17, 2015

 SolarPACES 2015, Cape Town, South Africa, Oct. 13-16, 2015

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